Family Kauai Trip : {Island Life Recommendations}

This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to go with my family to Kauai….and by family I mean the whole family:  My husband and kids, Mom, Step-Dad, Sisters, boyfriend, brother and his family, nieces, etc.  EPIC!  Anyway, me being me, I had to really plan out the trip.  I so rarely go to big places like this….plus I am a bit of a busy body…..that I had the desire to really MAX-OUT….to really “get my monies worth” so to speak.  So I asked a ton of people for recommendations, scoured the internet, printed up this here map of the island, and started marking places I wanted to see (yes and color coordinating it).  I then made copies for my entire family and sent a ton of texts regarding places to see and plans.  Too much? haha (That’s just me).  But I am so glad I did and I really felt like I got to see a lot of what I wanted on the island (of course there is tons more…but that will be for another trip).  I didn’t see everything, and didn’t blog about everything we saw…there is just too much!  But I do have a friend who lives there, so if my list of things to do isn’t enough…ask and I can def get some more places for you!  ALOHA!

EAT:

  • Puka Dog:  My husband and I loved this place and went twice!  They are amazing hawaiin style hot dogs that do not have a traditional open-face bun, but are almost incased completely in a bun….and then toppings are injected into the bun casing.  And the toppings are special…like tropical relishes and garlic mustards…YUM! It’s a must!
  • Street Burger:  The chef here is bringing some culinary expertise and is changing the food game of Kauai (say the locals).
  • Chicken in a Barrel:  These are stands on the side of the road with just some yummy chicken and ribs…we pulled over and grabbed a bite. 
  • Lava Lava Beach Club:  This was just a little indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar right on the sand in Kapaa.  It had great food and a really cool vibe.  
  • Duane’s Ono-Char Burger:  This is a little burger stand on the side of the road, but it had a huge wait and it was so yummy!  A good old burger!
  • The Wishingwell in Hana Lei:  SHAVED ICE!  You will find Shave ice everywhere on the island….but this spot was the best!

***Buy a cheap cooler and groceries and pack sandwiches if you want to travel a lot around the island and don’t want to always buy food.  We did this all the time, and it really helped because the kids were always hungry, and it isn’t like there is a McDonalds on every beach corner.  Plus you can put beers into the cooler and drink on the beach!

SEE:

    • Queens Bath: This was one of the most beautiful parts of the trip for me.  There is a short hike down to Queen’s Bath, and when I was there we dipped into the bath, then jumped off the rocks into the ocean where we were with a seal and sea turtles.  It was amazing!  But BE WARNED:  Queens bath can be very dangerous depending on the tide, so only go when it is safe.  (Not for little children)….that’s me swimming in the middle. 
    • Wailua Falls:  You can just drive up, park, and get out to view the falls and take pictures.  
    • Hoopi Falls Hike:  We took the kids on this and it was an easy hike!…but the trail is hard to find and is just a small opening across from some homes.
    • Waimea Canyon:  This is a beautiful drive and is like the “grand canyon” of Kauai
    • Hanalei Bay:  This was also one of my favorite spots.  It has a great view, great beach, no real waves which is great for kids, and you can go down the pier and jump off (it isn’t too high).
    • Wailua River:  We kayaked the entire river and then “parked” our kayaks on the shore where there was a path that lead to a hike.  This hike lead to an amazing waterfall!  My arms were dead, but it was so worth it!  BE WARNED:  Rent a kayak inadvance…they were all sold out when we tried to get one day of (luckily we knew someone in Kauai who let us borrow theirs).
    • Napali Coast:  Everyone loves this view…it’s so beautiful.  You can only drive so far, and then you either have to hike or take a boat to view the coast and beautiful mountains.
    • Maniniholo Dry Caves: These are on the North Shore and are just really cool to see.  You pass them on your way up towards the Napali Coast
    • Kalapaki Beach:  My brother and I surfed here and it was such a great experience.  You can rent a surfboard for a pretty reasonable price.
    • Honestly ALL THE NORTH SHORE BEACHES!  We would drive up and see gorgeous remote beaches, land, churches, a lighthouse, etc.  There are so many great beacheslike Anini, Tunnel’s, Hideaway, etc.  My husband and I wore our swimsuits with light clothing over, and brought towels and a cooler of food and just drove up the North Shore.  We would throw off our clothes and jump into the beaches we found, then head back into the car.  It was so laid back and beautiful.  (Clearly we left the kids with grandma at the hotel haha)
  • Luau:  My family and I went to a Luau and had a really great time!  However I was expecting it to be on a beach (like in the movies), but it was on a plantation and there were so many people!

SHOP:

Honestly I didn’t do any shopping because in paradise, who cares to shop? The only things I bought were some souvenirs, a hat for me from Hanalei Bay, and groceries! *Groceries…like a load of bread are pricey in Hawaii! Go to Walmart and Costco while there if you need to get food

  • ABC Stores:  These are everywhere in Hawaii and you can get anything from toilet paper to aouvwniers and clothes there. It’s a one stop shop to grab stuff for people back at home, or grab something you forgot.

HELPFUL TIPS:

  • When traveling with young kids, prepare yourself in advance that this will not be anormal trip to paradise with lots of sleeping in, massages, date nights and sex.  So just mentally prepare yourself now lol.
  • Don’t pack a ton of makeup, and lots of fancy shoes and dresses….you will get so into the island way of living that you won’t care about such things….plus it will most likely be too humid to want to get ready at all. (Bring a tank and shorts, sandals, and a swimsuit, done).

BUT SERIOUSLY:

  • Kid Tip:  When traveling with kids, pack TONS of food, snacks, lollipops (for the ear popping), pack the Ipad and headphones, and wrap “presents” for them to open on the plane to keep them entertained.  We wrapped crayons, a coloring book, a couple small toys from the cheap section at target, animal crackers, etc.

Praise God there was a Shake Shack in the LAX airport…..YUM for days!

WHERE WE STAYED: 

We stayed in condo’s at the Lae Nani Outrigger Resort.  These are privately owned condos that vary in size (1-3 bedrooms), and there are three floors to choose from.  We booked ours on AirBnB and had a great experience.  We got a 1 bedroom, that had a pull out couch in the living room for the kids, a full kitchen, two bathrooms (showers only), and a TV in each room.  It was plenty of room for the 4 of us.  The condo was fully stocked and even had beach chairs, inflatables for the pool, snorkel gear, cooking gear, and a cooler.  Just do a little research, look at customer reviews/pics, and ask the owner questions, and I am sure you will get what you want!  It was under $200 a night for us to stay right on the beach…which is a pretty good deal to me!  We chose a bottom floor unit so we wouldn’t have to lug kids up and down and so they could just wake up, have breakfast on the lanai and run on the grass as soon as they woke.  (Our poor neighbors lol).  There is a pool and tennis court also there, and I like the location….plus if you pick the right unit (like we did), you can have an awesome morning view.  The little beach right out front was so pretty, and there was even a spot that was set aside for kids to play (a portion of the beach is closed off by lava rocks making it safe without waves).  Kapaa is in the middle (coast) of the island, so almost equal distance to the North and South Shore.  

Fresh Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

Years ago my husband and I went to Puerto Vallarta for vacation. On the beaches of Puerto there are many places where beachfront restaurants cater to you with cool towels, cabanas, drinks, etc. as long as you buy their food. We would hang out at these places all day, tasting different dishes, reading, and getting our bronze on. One of these dishes was an amazing watermelon and goat cheese salad. It was my first time having goat cheese and I loved it!

So when thinking of a fun summer salad to make for Karla & Jason’s Baby-Q shower last week, I thought trying to make that phantom watermelon and goat cheese salad would be perfect! But when looking online for the recipe I couldn’t find one just like the salad I remembered…so I took the only watermelon/goat cheese recipe I could find (this one), and altered it a little. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Lettuce (I buy organic spring mix blend)
  • Blanched Slivered Almonds (In Puerto it had toasted pine nuts…both are delish)
  • Thin Sliced Red Onions
  • Cubed Watermelon
  • Crumbled Goat Cheese (If they only sell it solid that is fine…just be sure to cube it small)
  • 1/2 Cup of Orange Juice (No pulp)
  • 1/2 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper (About 5 dashes each)

{With this salad the only thing I measure is the dressing ingredients…everything else I just throw in depending on the size of salad and taste. For example the onions really bring out a different flavor in the salad…which I love…but not everyone loves onions so you may adjust it. Also, I usually double the dressing ingredients and store in the fridge for multiple uses.}

Directions:IMG_1628 IMG_1629Cube the watermelon

IMG_1632Thinly slice the onions. I have a mandolin and I sliced, then chopped them to make them smaller.

IMG_1634Combine olive oil, orange juice, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper.

IMG_1640Whisk/blend ingredients….I used a milk frother (you will need to do this before using every time because the liquids separate).

IMG_1643Combine dry ingredients with lettuce, add dressing to taste, and toss!…This isn’t tossed but just a taste test for me before the party…you know….just to make sure its good!

IMG_1783Tossed and at Karla & Jason’s Baby-Q